Orchestra Cornet by D.C. Hall

This cornet was made between 1862 and 1865, which were the years that the shop was solely owned by David Culver Hall, after J.L. Allen, who originated the business, moved to New York City.  Hall was a very successful soloist on the Eb keyed bugle and was not likely ever directly involved in the manufacturing of his instruments.  In his excellent AMIS Journal article on Hall and the Quinby brothers (who actually made the instruments), Bob Eliason reports how Hall's performing schedule would have left little time for work in the shop.  He was, however, sufficiently enamored with this new model that it is illustrated on his business card.   This model seems to have been made only during these years and only one other example is known to exist.  Fortunately, that other cornet is even better preserved than this one and I had the opportunity to work on it about 15 years previous.  It retained all it's original parts including original leather covered wood case, C and Bb slides, Bb and A shanks, crooks for Ab and G, mouthpiece and lyre.  Mine only had the Bb slide and the mouthpiece pictured here.  I was able to reproduce all the other parts based on the originals.  The mouthpiece is not likely original with this cornet, but came with it and looks remarkably similar to the original.  Another fascinating feature retained with the more original cornet is it's history.  It belonged to the grandson of the original owner,who also has the diary written by his grandfather while on campaign, in1864, in the south with the 102nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  I was able to read the entry in which he stated that he received his new D.C. Hall orchestra cornet.  He knew that it was important enough to mention the maker and model of his new possession and he obviously took great care of it during his lifetime.


This is quite a good playing cornet in either C or Bb and while possessing a French cornet style bell, it is lacking the long tapered mouthpipe that we normally think of as being an acoustical necessity.  The last photo is a close up of the first and third slides that show the scratches that the original player indicated where to tune each for the various keys.  As can be seen in the photographs, it has Allen rotary valves which have flattened windways, allowing for very fast actionwith a short stroke of the levers.  Judging by the fact that brass instruments featuring this valve design made by Allen, Hall and Quinby are some of the best from that time, the flat windways are not a deterrent to acoustical efficiency.  It is made entirely of German silver.   The overall length with shank removed is 12 1/8", the bell diameter is 4 9/16" and the bore measures .432".